From David Brittain, Chaplain, United Kingdom Armed Forces Humanists Association
Last year, at least 12 Humanist Groups laid wreaths to mark the sacrifice of those service men and women in the armed forces who have been killed or injured whilst serving their country. Such honour goes beyond any political considerations of whether a war is justified or not. It is simply a mark of respect and a token of thanks towards those who suffered when doing their duty as seen fit by their country, and their government.
At the last count, nearly 25,000 service personnel were registered as “of no religion”, but they scarcely get a mention in what is an overwhelmingly religious service. Indeed, the British Humanist Association has consistently been refused permission to participate at the Cenotaph in London alongside the minority religious groups (many of whom have tiny service representation by comparison).
This is intolerable, of course – but that doesn’t mean the Nation has to ignore the sacrifice made by non-believers, even if the government and church does!
The United Kingdom Armed Forces Humanist Association (UKAFHA) is campaigning for the rights of those non-religious service personnel to be also specifically remembered for the sacrifices they make, and if your group plans to lay a wreath in your local area as part of the Remembrance Day ceremonies in 2012, we ask you to include in your respects the following phrase in your wreath:
“…and also on behalf of the United Kingdom Armed Forces Humanist Association. For those who gave their lives for us. We will remember them.”
I have appended a Remembrance badge template which you can adapt for your use, but the style of the badge is not half as important as the words, so please feel free to adapt as you wish.
If you do decide to put this on your wreath, please advise me by email, and I will place the name of your group in a “roll of Humanist solidarity” with all those personnel in the Armed Forces who happen to be non-religious. The roll will be listed in UKAFHA’s November newsletter, which is sent to every member.
The lack of recognition for non-believers and Humanists at Remembrance Services is a major bone of contention among UKAFHA’s membership, and it will mean a great deal to them if the sacrifices Humanists make in the field of battle are remembered also, alongside the religious, and awarded the same respect.
Please visit UKAFHA’s web site. To find out more about laying a wreath on Remembrance Day, please visit http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/membership/counties for your local branch of the Royal British Legion.